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COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to 40 Percent Increase in WhatsApp Usage


As COVID-19 pandemic envelopes the world, WhatsApp has seen a 40 percent increase in usage, according to a study by Kantar, a data and consulting company. Across all stages of the pandemic, WhatsApp is the social media app experiencing the greatest gains in usage as people look to stay connected. Overall WhatsApp has seen a 40 percent increase in usage. Kantar conducted the largest global study into consumer attitudes, media habits and expectations during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Kantar estimates that for WhatsApp in the early phase of the pandemic usage increases 27 percent, in mid-phase 41 percent and countries in the late phase of the pandemic see an increase of 51 percent.

Spain experienced a 76 percent increase in time spent on WhatsApp. Overall Facebook usage has increased by 37 percent. China experienced a 58 percent increase in usage of local social media apps including Wechat and Weibo. According to a study, there is a crisis in trust. Traditional nationwide news channels (broadcast and newspaper) are the most trusted sources of information with 52 percent of people identifying them as a 'trustworthy' source.

Government agency websites are regarded as trustworthy by only 48 percent of people, suggesting that government measures are not providing citizens around the world with assurances and security. Also reflecting the loss of trust from recent election cycles, social media platforms are regarded by only 11 percent of people as a source of trustworthy information.

As countries move deeper into the pandemic so does media consumption increase across all in-home channels. According to Kantar, in the later stages of the pandemic web browsing increases by 70 percent, followed by (traditional) TV viewing increasing by 63 percent and social media engagement increasing by 61 percent over normal usage rates. Increased usage across all messaging platforms has been the biggest in the 18-34 age group. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have all experienced a more than 40 percent increase in usage from under 35-year olds. Consumers expect the brands they choose to look after their employees first and foremost with 78 percent saying take care of employees' health and 62 percent saying implement flexible working. Supporting hospitals (41 percent) and being helpful to the government (35 percent) is an expectation of a significant minority of consumers, the study says.